Summer, summer, summer. The word is fat and round and breezy and rolls around nicely on the tongue. And we want our food to be breezy, too.
If you have basil and tomatoes growing in your garden, make this. If you have a farmers’ market near you, make this. And if you have leftover pesto hanging around, even store-bought, you can still make this.
You’ll cook the pasta and make the pesto in the time it takes to roast the little tomatoes. The amount of oil in the dish is flexible; a bit is added to the roasting tomatoes, a bit to the cooked pasta, and the rest goes into the pesto. The pesto is intentionally a bit thick, as it will distribute itself nicely over the pasta and tomatoes when tossed, but you can always add a little more oil if you want a more fluid pesto.
By no means do you have to use cavatappi ‚Äî it was the pasta I grabbed at the moment, and I do love its compact, chewy, twisted little shape.
Another thing to love is the fact that this can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. It’s a great make-ahead dish, hanging out happily for a day in the fridge before being brought to room temperature and served. It’s very portable.
And it’s not too hard on the eyes either. Yellow tomatoes are a nice burst of sunny colour, but you can use red too, or a mix of colours.
CAVATAPPI WITH ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES AND PESTO
Start to finish: 35 minutes
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
5 sprigs fresh thyme
about 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup packed basil leaves
3 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound cavatappi or other chunky pasta
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tomatoes and thyme sprigs on the baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they are wrinkly and slightly collapsed.
While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, make the pesto. Place the garlic and basil in a food processor or blender and pulse until everything is roughly chopped. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper and process, scraping down the sides part way through until everything is well blended. If it is very thick, add a bit more olive oil. Add the cheese and pulse until blended in. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Cook the cavatappi according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta. Toss the pasta with the cooking water, the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more if it seems dry) and the roasted tomatoes (discard the thyme sprigs), and transfer to a serving bowl. Dollop the pesto on top, and toss. Serve hot, warm or cold.
Nutrition information per serving: 560 calories; 227 calories from fat; 26 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 406 mg sodium; 60 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 18 g protein.